Past Misery

I don’t really want to write down all the details of yesterday. I think I’d rather explore some topic. This is a change. Possibly it started with the work with Erica. I know this writing is a daily discipline, possibly even my spiritual practice. I think the writing every detail was a form of hanging on when it was so difficult just to get through the day. From this place of feeling better, of feeling relaxed and like I’m OK just as I am (even if I can’t make conversation), I look back and see how much pain I was in. I really had no idea. I think of Erica’s comment about my stamina and endurance, I had my usual reaction of not believing it, but now that I see how really difficult my life has been, it makes sense.

I remember being at Kripalu, and unable to sleep, so I walked the basement corridors for hours. Another time, I was living in a house in the country, in the basement apartment. There was a clock that struck the hours and the quarters, and I simply couldn’t sleep. I was ashamed to bother my landlady by asking her if I could stop the clock. Again I remember going outside and walking around and around, chanting the “Prajna Paramita” chant that I had learned at the Rochester Zen Center. I remember being so terrified that I could hardly move. I made myself water the plants, and then watched the stream of water coming from that watering can and holding on to it like it was a lifeline. I remember gathering my notebook, books, teabags, and rushing from the house when the airplane noise began.  Coming “home” from out of town, I’d start to feel scared, not like I was coming home at all.

The not having any conversation happens when I’m with “normal” people. I don’t read the newspapers, I don’t watch TV, I don’t see movies. They’re always talking about people and events I’ve never heard of. What I have to say is about esoteric things like “object constancy” and the physiology of trauma.  When I’m with a group of ordinary people, even ones I love like with family this weekend, I feel like someone who’s come from a nunnery, or a mental hospital, I’m so far out of the loop.

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